Thursday, December 2, 2010

For Art's Sake

Our girl's go to a phenomenal school here in North Burnaby. Confederation Park Elementary School is small - only 240 students in grades Kindergarten to grade seven. Five years ago, the Burnaby School District was ready to shut the school down as enrollment had dropped to just over 90 students. The administrator at the time had the brilliant idea of turning the school into a "school of the arts" - and that is just what she did.

Now, five years later, the school is bursting at the seams and has four portable classrooms on the property. There is a waiting list to get in. Most of the enthusiasm for the school is centered around the idea that its philosophy of "education through the arts" is valuable and important. The school is home to a visual art studio, a dance studio, well-equipped music room, and staff who (for the most part) are passionate about incorporating the arts into the curriculum.

By all accounts, you would call this transformation a success story. Sadly, the Burnaby School District does not fund the arts at Confederation Park to a greater extent than any other schools in the district. If the school wants/needs more funds for music, costumes, art supplies, etc., it's up to the school itself to make it happen.

The Parent Advisory Council at the school is incredibly active and imaginative. It's become a tradition to host a Community Art Show each November in the school gym. Each student creates art pieces that are displayed and sold to guests at the show. (Yes, this means you are paying for your kid's art, but the money goes to assist them in creating more art!) The gym is transformed into a winter wonderland by parent volunteers. Bartenders are on hand to mix martinis and pour wine and beer. There is a band playing to create some atmosphere while you wander around and admire the amazing work of the students. Local artists are invited to display and sell their work as a way to support the arts in the community. It's a fabulous event that takes hours of volunteer hours to put on.

Most importantly, the event builds community.

Before the show, we went out to an amazing Indian restaurant called Bombay Bhel with a few other couples from the school. We shared and sampled and indulged until we were stuffed. The butter chicken made Mike and me particularly happy.

Once at the show, we were able to wander about to find our girl's creations. Hannah made a beautiful starfish which she formed out of clay - then fired and painted.

Sasha's class went a little more simple. There was a painted snowflake with a picture of her in the center. Who wouldn't pay good money for that smile!

Ellie's class prepared two projects - an artist's palette clock and a hand-painted glass Christmas ornament. We couldn't let either of those go!

The gym was a place of creativity, laughter, excitement and joy.
The martinis helped with the "joy" part.

It was a great evening with nearly $10,000 dollars raised to go back to the school's art program. Money well spent!


  1. Wow! Excellent idea and I can't get over the fact they served alcohol there! Really1?!? I know, "We are not in Winkler anymore TOto"!!! I can't believe you found a school as such to fit your exact family. Enjoy the blessing of your school.

  2. karla, i echo jen's comments. what a cool experience!!!!! i LOVE IT (martini's at a school function! whooo eee).
    love hearing that you went out with other couples for indian cuisine.
    my heart swells. kiss those girls of yours from us...i would have been there in a heart beat, if possible, to buy buy buy!!!!!

  3. I'm just going to assume that Mike spent his $10,000?